Businesses creating dream wedding for bride with cancer

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Nicole Weiss and David Rhoades’ wedding plans took an abrupt turn on July 31 when Weiss was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

In the midst of mounting medical bills and Weiss’ radiation and chemotherapy, Black Hills businesses are teaming up to give the Rapid City couple a wedding celebration on Oct. 18.

Weiss is battling stage 4 glioma, a rare mutation of a cancerous tumor. Though it isn’t curable, doctors hope to slow its progression. Weiss is undergoing treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. High school sweethearts Weiss, 28, and Rhoades, 29, had been planning to marry in spring 2021, the Rapid CIty Journal reported.

“When we found out about my diagnosis, I thought, ‘Why have we waited so long? Let’s just get married.’ We’ve been together 11 years,” Weiss said.

Sandra Nichols of IndigoBlue Photography in Hot Springs took the couple’s engagement photos. When she heard about Weiss’ health crisis, she and Rapid City wedding designer Justin Straw of Justin Straw Designs collaborated to organize and plan an intimate ceremony, dinner and dance for Weiss and Rhoades. The couple will celebrate with about two dozen family members and close friends.

“It’s about giving the families a day to breathe and just be, and David and Nicole having an outpouring of love,” Nichols said.

“We’re doing this in about six weeks start to finish, but that’s the advantage to being in the field we’re in and knowing the people we know. I don’t recommend to any bride to try to pull off a wedding in six weeks,” she said, laughing.

Weiss created a Pinterest wedding board as inspiration for Nichols and Straw to share with other vendors. Straw is designing the vintage boho romantic-themed décor that’s personalized to the couple.

“I decided to go (with fall colors) so it’s primarily burgundy and sage green with gold and blush accents,” Weiss said. “Whatever they do is going to be perfect.”

“We keep thinking up new creative things to do,” Straw said. “We’ve filled Nikki in as much as we feel like she needs to know, and the rest we’ll try to make as big a surprise as possible.”

Nichols and Straw said they were thrilled every vendor they approached agreed to help.

“With COVID-19 for so many businesses in the wedding industry, it’s been a hard year for us. To ask people to even give a little bit more (is a lot) but honest to goodness, there was no hesitancy,” Nichols said. “It’s been like a little bit of magic and a real feel-good experience. Without even knowing the couple, the people that have stepped up to the plate for this is incredible.”

“I felt like this is something I wanted to be involved with, and every vendor I’ve talked to has been amazing. They all said, ‘Yes, I’m on board. I’d love to help this couple out,’” Straw said.

Between chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Weiss went to a David’s Bridal location in Minnesota and found a wedding dress she liked. The David’s Bridal shop in Rapid City obtained the dress Weiss wanted and is donating it to her. Main Street Menswear in Rapid City is donating suits for Rhoades and his best man, Jimmy Belmonte.

Weiss said she always dreamed of getting married at Prairie Berry Winery in Hill City. Prairie Berry has donated the use of its Homestead venue, and Weiss’ family is paying for a meal catered by Prairie Berry. The Country Cookie in Newell is donating custom cookie favors, and Sweet Secrets Bakery in Rapid City is donating the carrot cake wedding cake.

Although Weiss has switched to a Keto diet based on nutritionists’ recommendations, she’s going to splurge on her wedding day.

“I love Prairie Berry’s food. We picked a menu of beer-braised beef with garlic mashed potatoes and rice pilaf and seasonal salad,” she said. “During this (cancer treatment) I’ve cut out all carbs and sugar, but I said, ‘It’s my wedding day. I’m going to eat whatever I want.’ I’m going to eat the cake!”

Rapid City-based Complete Weddings + Events will deejay a dance after dinner. To keep herself mentally and physically strong for her medical treatments and wedding day, Weiss does yoga, walks, meditates, journals and reads the Bible, she said.

“I’m not sure how I’m going to feel (physically), but I’m planning on doing some dancing, as much as I can,” Weiss said.

Jenny’s Floral in Custer is donating the bridal bouquet, boutonnieres and flowers for centerpieces and décor. Nichols and Barbara Downen of Mist and Moonlight Photography are taking wedding photos, and Finer Details Artistry will be the videographer.

Weiss’ close friend Hannah Manzano will be the maid of honor. Amanda Wilson is donating hair and makeup styling for Weiss and Manzano.

Weiss’ niece Rosie Weiss and Rhoades’ niece Lizzie Blomberg will be flower girls. Weiss’ younger brother Brennan Weiss and nephew Leelan Weiss will be ring bearers. Officiant KC Bunch will perform the ceremony.

Lowe & Co. is providing keepsake invitations for the wedding guests.

Even the weather is cooperating for the couple’s late-afternoon celebration. The long-range forecast for Oct. 18 is mild and sunny.

“Everything people have done for me has really restored my faith in humanity right now,” Weiss said. “I’m really grateful for all the work everyone’s put into it. I’m really excited for the day.”

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